City ran out winners with a very late goal from Louis Dunne against the league leaders. A cagey affair saw both teams create chances but not really test Ejeheri or Mair in either net. The Clarets kept growing in the game and dominated the last 15 minutes before grabbing a goal in the 89th Minute.
The Clarets first real chance of the game came after just 3 minutes. Jackson clipped a ball over to Yearn in the Dartford area who played the ball wide to Yila and his cross was blocked behind for a corner as the Clarets had men piling forward looking to capitalise on the opportunity. The resulting corner was swung in by Blackwell just over the head of Winfield but only cleared to the edge of the box. Yearn challenged Carruthers for the ball and flicked a looping ball into the box. Winfield got up for it and headed across the 6-yard area where James was on hand to sweep the ball past Mair. The celebrations were cut short however as the linesman on the near side had his flag raised against Winfield.
The Darts would have the next chance of the game after 13 minutes. A delightful ball floated into the box from a Carruthers free kick. The delivery went deep to Essam who put the ball back across the box, it found Sheringham who could only hook his effort over the bar from close range. It was a bit of a wasted opportunity as Sheringham really should’ve tested Ejeheri.
Essam was involved again for the visitors as they looked to cause problems from an Odaudu long-throw. The throw found the head of Essam who flicked towards goal, Ejeheri got across his goal well and made the catch. Aerial duels seemed to be a theme of the opening exchanges for both sides as battles were happening in all areas of the pitch.
Blackwell looked to cause more problems from a set-piece. A spate of throw-ins high up the pitch saw the Clarets work their way to a corner through Yearn. Blackwell took the corner and picked out Yila advancing to the centre of the penalty area. Yila met the ball but didn’t connect as cleanly as he might’ve liked and dragged his effort just wide of Mair’s post. Blackwell would be involved again as he looked to create a chance just minutes later for the Clarets. He picked up the ball out wide and looked to drive into the box under pressure, Jackson was up with him, but Blackwell’s drilled cross couldn’t quite pick out the Clarets number 10.
The game continued in its scrappy nature as it ticked over the half-hour mark with each side continuing to probe and look to cause problems and create an opportunity to take an advantage in the tie. Both teams defending well and containing the danger of eachother.
Rodari had the visitor’s best chance of the first half so far as he managed to find a gap in the Clarets backline and latched onto a bouncing ball. He looked to get a toe and flick the ball at goal from about 5 yards out. Rodari got under the ball, flicking his effort up and over Ejeheri but also the Claret’s crossbar and out for a goal kick.
It was the Dartford number 11 who continued a spell in the game for the visitors as he picked the ball up and looked to test Ejeheri. Some tidy play from Carruthers under pressure on the near side who picked out Murtagh as the Darts came forward. Rodari also involved in the centre of field who wound up and struck at goal. A Claret body got in the way and sent the deflected effort spiralling towards the goal. Ejeheri got across his goal well and saw the ball out for a corner.
Carruthers gave the Clarets an opportunity to put the ball in the box after fouling Barnum-Bobb on the near touchline. Vaz clipped the ball deep into the box towards the likes of Trotter and Winfield. The Clarets skipper won it and headed down towards goal, but it was straight at Mair. Either side of the keeper and he may have given the Clarets an advantage heading into the break.
That was the last real chance for either side as the referee bought an end to the first half with the score still deadlocked. Both teams created chances but neither keeper had their goal threatened too much.
HALF TIME: CCFC 0-0 DFC
Jackson forced Mair into his first real save of the half from close range. Yearn won the Clarets a freekick after a clumsy challenge from the Dartford player. Blackwell fired the ball into the box which found Jackson at close range. Jackson hit the ball towards goal. Mair stood tall and made the save and gave the Darts a chance to clear, Yearn stopped the clearance and gave the Clarets another chance to get the ball in the box. The ball bounces around and the ball doesn’t really stick for a City player before the visitors were able to clear.
A string of chances would follow for the Darts in what was an energetic start to the half for both sides. A freekick put into the Clarets box by Carruthers went deep to Sheringham at the back post in a bit of space. He headed down across the face of goal with the ball searching for a Dartford touch to poke home. James got their first and put the ball behind for a corner. The corner that followed was a routine with Carruthers drilling the ball to the edge of the area for Fonkeu, he looked to strike at goal but miskicked his effort. It worked well for the Darts as Fonkeu’s attempt broke to Murtagh who struck at goal, but his effort was always rising and never really troubled Ejeheri.
Blackwell would bring the Clarets forward, on 57 minutes, as he ran down the wing in and in a similar fashion to his chance in the first half looked to flash a drilled effort towards Jackson. The ball went right across the face of goal, just out of the reach of Jackson and rolled out for a goal kick. After a fairly scrappy middle period to the game with neither team fashioning any chances of note, Blackwell would look to launch a Clarets attack in the 74th minute. Blackwell led the attack with Bonner following him all the way, Lodovica came with him in support if Blackwell could pick him out. Blackwell made it into the box and cut inside as he looked to create a yard of space for a shot at goal. Bonner read what Blackwell wanted to do and got in the way with a sliding block, allowing Dartford to regroup and clear their lines.
The Clarets looked to come forward again with Blackwell. He throws in a bit of trickery as he looked to deceive his man. He threaded the ball through to the underlap of Dunne with the ball just bouncing off Dunne’s shin and behind for a goal kick. The Clarets dominance continued into the late exchanges of the game. Yearn bought the ball forward in an attack and fed the ball out to Blackwell, Blackwell then found Trotter on the overlap who flashed a low ball across the face of goal. Mair couldn’t get there, and the ball went just out of the reach of Lodovica running in at the back post and trickled out for a goal kick.
Louis Dunne grabbed the winner for the Clarets in the 89th Minute. An excellent bit of play from the Clarets saw James pick up the ball high up the pitch. He offloaded the ball to Dunne who whipped a ball in towards Lodovica. The ball went just over the head of Lodovica, took a nick off Bonner, and nestled in the far post.
That would be the last chance of the game as the Clarets ran out winners against the league leaders with Dunne’s goal the difference. It was a cagey affair but apparent that both clubs were flying well at the top of the league with a late goal to top a period of Claret dominance at the end of the second half.
FULL TIME: CCFC 1-0 DFC
CCFC: Ejeheri (GK), James, Barnum-Bobb, Trotter, Winfield (C), Yearn, Jackson (Lodovica 73’), Blackwell, Ochieng (Dunne 63’), Vaz, Yila (Esan 87’)
Unused Subs: Marsden (GK), Wilkes
Cautions: Ochieng 31’, Esan 90+3
Goals: Dunne 89’
DFC: Mair (GK), Wynter, Carruthers, Essam, Bonner (C), Murtagh (Coulson 90+2), Rodari (Allen 66’), Statham, Fonkeu, Sheringham (Wall 71’), Odaudu
Unused Subs: Young (GK), Campbell
Cautions: Rodari 7’, Carruthers 43’
Report by Josh Verroken